Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Winning, winning + Scooters & Coconuts

Last March, i was able to witness for the first time, our company's annual Barista Competition. Representatives from our 3 districts + 1 from our Cebu stores battled it out to see who could prepare the perfect Espresso Shot, the most beautiful Cappuccino and the most creative Signature Drink. Pet (yes, that's his name haha!) from our South team had won that night and he would later be sent to Vietnam to compete in the Asia Pacific Barista Competition.

Little did i know that 5 months after, i would go right along with him and a representative from our Training Department to experience what would become another super awesome adventure for me. :)

In my list of THINGS TO DO in life, traveling for work had been one of the bullets, and i'm extremely blessed to have been able to cross it out. The most surreal thing was the fact that i was going to be a part of something really fun, educational and interactive - not the typical boring, tiring and corny type of business trip most people would just hate. I was going to Vietnam to cheer Pet on while he showcases his talent, and take a Coffee Specialist class with Arlene from training and get the chance to listen to Jay Isais, our expert Coffee buyer talk about the great big coffee industry that we are in.


My lolo (who's a biiiig travelling guy), said that to truly experience Vietnam, one must visit Hanoi. Of course as much as i'd love more than anything to take a side trip to all the beautiful places he talked about in Hanoi, going on a business trip means that you can't just go wherever you'd like. But i'm not one to complain. :)

Ho Chi Minh City would be the backdrop of the 2010 World & Asia Pacific Barista Competition. Although we never got the chance to tour the place in it's entirety, what with all of our scheduled activities, the walks we took around our hotel (which conveniently, was in the center of the most sought after market in Ho Chi Minh, the Ben Thanh Market!), were good enough.

Scooters EVERYWHERE!!! In Vietnam, there's practically one lane for cars, busses and cabs. The rest are for people on scooters!

Hello, hello, you pretty animal print motorcycle, you! I couldn't resist taking a pic of my favorite print! Haha!

Mmmmm, noodles on a shady looking cart! All the more appealing to me! :))


One of the most incredible experiences for us was getting the chance to meet CBTL Team Members from lots of different countries! It was so interesting to see how we are all the same and different at the same time.

Here's Pet with the World Barista Cup champion from America! I love the quirky flower accessory on her hair.

Ahn-nyung-ha-se-yo, Korean Team!

Talentadong Pinoy! Can you believe the competitors from Qatar and Malaysia were Filipinos? Although it's sad that they're working overseas and representing another country, we're blessed that they represent the Philippines well wherever they are. :)

Personally, i was very happy to finally meet Roy and Caroline, 2 people who have made my life in the Marketing Department a gazillion times easier with all the support and help they constantly give us. It's fun to see the faces behind all the e-mails we send throughout the year!


There is just soooo much to know about coffee (planting, growing, picking, washing, processing, roasting, grinding, brewing....and everything in between), that at the end of our specialist class, Arlene and I practically looked like coffee already. And did i mention that we had to taste it all? Differences in grind, roast, wash, expiration date, flavor, elevation during planting, country origin, etc. :O

Needless to say, my tummy was in so much trouble after that. I apologize for the overshare, it's just necessary so that i can highlight how much i missed out on the incredible buffet that was available for us during breakfast and lunch. I'm such a sucker for buffets, and all i got to eat was a few pieces of bland tasting bread and an apple. Thank you Lord for sleep, medicine and lots of soda, because by the last night I was ready to indulge in noodles and spring rolls! :))


Alright, i'm gonna begin by breaking the news. We didn't win.

Despite Pet & Arlene's months of practice on the Espresso machine...

Despite all the months of tasting and rejecting and perfecting his Signature drink...

Well....we didn't win. And despite the initial feelings of sadness and "sayang-ness", it really, genuinely, is okay. :) The title of the blog is still WINNING & WINNING because despite our country not being called out in the final announcement, it still felt great to be there and represent . :)

I know that as a team we could've done a better job in presenting our Signature Drink (golly bananas, you should have seen all the gimmiks the other countries were doing! And here we thought it didn't matter so much...), but we took it as a great big lesson learned. We won in our hearts because we learned sooo much!

In fact, i'm so ready to take on next year's competition. :) I promised Arlene exactly that!


After the competition, we were able to enjoy the rest of the city and buy some interesting things to bring home.

I totally got ripped off when i bought those yummy coconuts! I ended up paying almost P150 for each!!!

Dinner that night was at a cool restaurant where you can watch your food being cooked all along the sides of the place. Note to self: I must remember to actually take down the name of the restaurant and the food that we tried because i never get to share anything useful when i write about it! The great thing about it was that i got to try those super sweet and yummy coconuts again, but this time, in a friendly, un-ripped off price. :)

It was so awesome to be able to visit the different CBTL stores too!!! All we did was get a map and walk all around town trying to find them. We got lost several times and had to communicate by hand signals to locals on the streets, but we got there eventually. They were so warm and welcoming, especially when they knew we were from CBTL too!

You know how you get a fuzzy feeling in the tummy when a fun trip is about to end? (This isn't the same funny feeling i talked about earlier, okay! haha) It's the feeling of not wanting to leave but at the same time being excited to come home and share stories with everyone else.

I'm extremely blessed to see how being in this company really makes you feel like you're part of family that's doing important and valuable things for others. I saw how passionate everyone is (from the big bosses to the trainers to the managers to the team members) in what they do and how they genuinely love the company for everything that it stands for. There is value in the work that we do.

Next year will be big and great and awesome and i'm very excited for it! :) I pray that whether or not i get sent again, i'll be able to pass on the lessons and the knowledge i got from this year's competition to the next Team Member who'll be up on stage.

Yay for great people to go on trips with and Yay to all the Yaaaay adventures that happen along the way! Till my next one!

Lexi Safari

Monday, June 21, 2010

Hong Kong High ♥

Reading my friends Dani and Pao's blog definitely inspired me to finally write about my super duper Hong Kong adventure last March. In fact, i am now wearing my "I ♥ HK" T-shirt just to get the full effect! Despite having been there several times before, this year's trip was something absolutely different because it was the first time I spent for a trip with my very own, hard-earned money! Everybody do a YAY dance with me! Haha!
My awesome travel buddies! College blockmates Steph, Java, Kingsley and Sha (taking the photo).
Hong Kong here we coooome!

Before leaving, i made myself a list of things-i-can't-forget-to-bring. It might help you too when you go and travel the world!
1. A carry-all bag that i can bring around everywhere... a.k.a. the only bag you will see me carrying in ALL my photos :))
Here with my very reliable, sturdy and roomy tote from Top Shop! It can fit everything!

2. A thick or thin jacket depending on the predicted weather in the place you are to go.... therefore, this calls for the actual FOLLOWING of the weather report posted online...something i stupidly did not do because i insisted it was going to be hot and therefore brought only a bunch of SHORTS and a LACE SWEATER in a 14 degree weather country. HAHA.
3. My Passport & Plane Ticket
4. A fully charged ipod
5..... etc. etc. etc. i'm sure everyone knows what they're supposed to bring on a travel adventure anyway! And besides, forgetting something only means that you have one more funny & crazy mishap to share when talking about your adventure in the future! :))

Time for my favorite part:



....Because really, when you're in Hong Kong, how can that not be the first thing you love? :)
Being on a budget however, allowed me to discover that you CAN get absolutely amazing meals even if you have very little money on hand. They say that tiny hole-in-the-wall and seemingly dirty restaurants are actually the yummiest ones to eat in! I'm a HUGE and LOVING fan of Chinese food so i savored every chance i got to taste what i could.

I also love FOOD REPUBLIC! It had the BEST choices of different Asian food, all in one place! (And yes, i ate and ENJOYED the rice meal very much. Haha!)

A part from trying all the local fare, it was also nice to check out some of the international food offerings that we tried in different places! From super healthy and high-end food courts at The Landmark (in Central), to really awesome soft-serve ice cream right along the road.


I wish i could give some "insider" report about cool places to find vintage pieces, but i can't. Because i really don't know. A few months before our trip, i was given the assignment of "Shop Lister" or finding "Shops to go to" in Hong Kong. Little did we know that once we landed, we just went wherever our hearts felt! Our goal was to go to affordable shops we knew we weren't going to find back home anytime soon. Thus the multiple trips to H&M, Cotton On, Muji, Uniqlo (My favorite!!!), and the really worth-it adventure to the far off City Gate Outlets in Tung Chung, where i found my beloved pair of leather booty wedges from I.T! ♥


Really. If our train operations in Manila ever get as close to the way the MTRs in Hong Kong are organized, then traveling all around would be no problem at all. You won't even realize how far you're going because (1) you're not sweating from the non-working airconditioning, (2) you don't have to transfer from train to train in the hot and humid outside air, (3) you don't have to wait in a terribly long cue just to get your ticket.

We love the fun ads lined along the walls (haha, adver majors here, sorry! we just had to notice.)

...and we love sleeping there too. (Can't help it after walking around all day!)


Such as....

Steph, my forever group mate throughout my entire college life! She was our plane ticket booker, hotel organizer, photographer and more. Being the smart travel that she is helped us go places and get great deals.

Kingsley, who we firmly believe went home with the MOST things and even skipped a day at Disney to finish his shopping...

Java, who conquered every store with me, rack by rack, and was game for any adventure too...

and Shabee, who made us laugh the entire trip, with his English speaking and random rants. :))

Yay to all the Yay moments ♥♥♥ see you again sooner than soon, Hong Kong!

*All photo credits to Java and Steph!